Stepping in and out of your comfort zone

queen of the worldWishful Thinking leads to growth and change, which usually involves a level of risk, and taking risks requires courage.  My initial reaction to taking risks usually involves fear, which usually leads to procrastination.

Sound familiar?

If so, keep reading . . . I have learned to use a series of activities to increase my courage and face my fears.

The idea of combining the steps into a diet came to me after reading the book “The Joy Diet” by life coach and Oprah magazine columnist, Martha Beck. I read “The Joy Diet” about 10 years ago, and immediately started using it to create more joy in my life.

Beck lists “Taking Risks” as the fifth step of her ten-step plan for finding joy.

She encourages us to take risks that make sense and are oriented in the direction we want to go. She has one warning: the risk must be scary. (That part was easy for me!)

I hope “My Courage Diet” helps and encourages you, as much as it has guided and supported me.

To get started, all you need is a pen, a piece of paper, and the wish to change your life, even just a little.

My Courage Diet

Step 1 

Begin by writing a list of all the brave or difficult-to-accomplish things you have done.

List every single challenge you have faced and every fear you have conquered. Remember, there was a time when tying your shoe, passing your driver’s test, and getting your first kiss, date, degree or job – seemed very, very scary. 

Try not to think, just write. Set a timer for 15 minutes – writing and creating a deadline are essential parts of the process.

Then reread your list; fill-in any blanks; round-out the details and add any other brave acts that come to mind.  (You can keep adding to the list forever!)

Each day, pick one item on the list to review and revisit. Take a minute to fully picture the scene and to feel the memories and sensations it brings. Remember how good it felt to face, achieve or complete the item . . .

Sixty seconds of reminiscing can bring you a flush of positive feelings and a nice boost of courage. (This part is really important so, please do it even if it seems silly.)

Step 2 

Think of the music that gets you going and in a great mood.

For me “Eye of the Tiger” is a sure winner no matter what I am trying to conquer (no laughing, please). Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” (no snickering, either) and Kenny Loggins’ “This is It” got me through my undergrad degree; Alaniss Morisette and Tina Turner kept me focused through relationship upheavals; classical music helped me with my Masters and Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin and Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” kept me company in the Peace Corps.

It’s your pick, your list, your music.

Now, put the music in a format that is easy to access and then, listen to it! Once, twice, three times a day – at home, in the car, running, walking, whatever it takes to keep you feeling motivated.

Step 3

sidewalk-657906_640Create a list of movies that have inspired you. Select movies based on real people, who have faced overwhelming challenges. People, who have stepped in and out of their comfort zones, and achieved their dreams.

“Rudy”, “Rocket Boys/October Sky”, “Cinderella Man”, “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and “Julie & Julia” are some of my favorites. I’ll also add “Tin Cup” to the list, it is not in my top 10, but there are some scenes I adore. (Remember all of this is up to you, it’s your choice. Be honest about what you love.)

Carve out time to watch these movies.

If you are short on movie-watching time go online to the Internet Movie Database or to the official site of the movie, or see if the movie’s trailer is on YouTube.

If you already love a movie, reading about it or watching the trailer will bring all the good feelings associated with it back to you. Or, simple, replay the film in your mind, remembering the scenes, music, and characters that made it special to you.

If you cannot think of a single inspiring movie, go to the American Film Institute’s “100 Years 100 Cheers” web site and download their list of the 100 most inspiring movies. Keep watching until you feel energized and inspired.

You can also watch free, short inspirational videos here. This is one of my favorites, because it includes “Eye of the Tiger”.

Step 4

Make a list of books or stories that have inspired you. Include your childhood favorites. 

Read them again. If you are crunched for time, read the first and last chapters or your favorite passages, or even an online summary. It only takes a few minutes or a quick glance to bring back the memories and the meaning they held for you. (Your brain is an amazing, high-tech, personalized support tool. You have primed it with good thoughts, which it will automatically release when you take a moment or two  to reconnect with the moments and memories you love. Don’t let this gold mine of goodness sit idle, unearth the buried treasures that motivate and inspire you.)

recycle-619067_640Step 5

Repeat diet steps 1-4, as necessary. Repetition does not imply defeat or failure in any way; rather it reveals bravery and resiliency. When we rewind and recycle what has worked for us in the past, we are showing a high level of emotional competency, and it’s a great way for us to face new or stressful choices and challenges.

Step 6

Please add anything you want to the diet or change it in any way that gets you ready to take on the world. 

It is your courage diet now; go for it!     

WTW Dandelion

Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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(I posted the original version of “My Courage Diet” on Wishful Thinking Works in 2010 – it works!) 

Writing, chatting, and apples

I took two mini-risks yesterday. The first one involved attending an online writing chat. Attending the chat was actually an accident, I thought I was going to be watching a webinar, but instead I ended-up chatting – in writing, about writing. The only visuals were the guest and moderator’s Gravatars. The set-up felt odd at first, and I thought it might be boring, since I’m a bit of a bells and whistles kind-of gal.

The featured guest was Roy Peter Clark, a PhD in medieval literature and V.P. and Senior Scholar at the world-renowned Poynter Institute, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Clark has authored or edited 14 books. (Believe it or not, that was the exciting part to me – nerd alert!)

The Poynter Institute is:

“a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses. It stands for a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse. It carries forward Nelson Poynter’s belief in the value of independent journalism.”

Their web site, www.poynter.org hosted the chat, which focused on the power of asking open-ended questions. Clark was discussing them and we were supposed to asking them, which led to some tense moments for me and to my second risk of the day. I spent 30 minutes trying to work up the courage to ask a question, because as you know, taking risks scares me – big time. When I finally did ask, the discussion went like this, and yes, I am quoting:

Thursday February 17, 2011 3:33

[Comment From Patrice:] I am beginning to do a series of interviews for my blog. What are your favorite questions for soft news interviews?

Roy Peter Clark: Patrice, I don’t necessarily change my questions for soft news to hard news. But I do like the pattern in which you ask easier questions early and then tough ones later one. The rationale is that you want to gain confidence and not make source feel defensive — or make her leave the interview — until you have what you want.

As other folks asked questions and received answers, my courage began to grow. I decided to ask another question.

[Comment From Patrice:] When and how did you get hooked on the art of inquiry?

Roy Peter Clark: This may sound strange, Patrice, but I think it came from reading fiction as a young person. When I got “hooked” on a story, I wanted to find out what happened next. Or I wanted the answer to a key question: “Where was the treasure chest buried?” I also watched Perry Mason and still love courtroom dramas. Although they are not realistic, they have a narrative arc that mimics inquiry.

Roy Peter Clark: And thanks Patrice, for asking an open-ended question. One that no one asked me before. So I think you got a decent answer from me, an authentic original answer, rather than my canned quote. 

How cool is that, and oh, so not boring, which later led to another question . . .

Ellyn Angelotti (Moderator and Interactivity Editor at Poynter Online)

This is from Patrice: I’m a life coach, and did not realize there was such a crossover between a good interview and a good coaching session – the swing thoughts, re-asking the same questions, asking easier questions first and really listening to the answers. Thanks for helping me gain those insights. Question: If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

Roy Peter Clark: Another good question, Patrice. At the age of 62, I’m wondering if I have one more career choice left. I think I’d make a pretty good psychologist. And I wonder if I still have time for law school. What interests me about those two choices is the differences in the style of questioning. In an shrink’s office versus a courtroom. The first much more open-ended. The second more pointed. And I am a good piano player.

Be still my heart! Fun, drama, excitement, information sharing, learning. Proof positive that I am a nerd, but nerdy little me would have missed all the fun, if I hadn’t taken the risk of asking a question or two.

To read the entire chat, click here. If you’d like to learn more about Clark, you can check out his Facebook Page, read his article Twenty Writing Tools or his books:

 

 

And, now a few open-ended questions for you. Take a risk and share your answers with us:

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing with your life now, what would you be doing?

Even if you don’t share your answer with us, pay attention to it. Mine was swimming, no clue why, but I will work in a beach visit.

What did you want to be when you grew-up?

An actress or a lawyer, I saw them as equally dramatic and exciting.

If you were a tree . . . just kidding, just kidding, that’s Barbara Walter’s question!!!

But, wait, what if you were an apple, what kind of apple would you be? (Now that’s a much better question, one we can really sink our teeth into. Oooh, that was bad, but it won’t stop me from answering.) 

I’d be a Winesap – spicy, tangy, crisp and delicious, also I love wine and can be very sappy.

Have a great weekend, and, as Martha Beck might say taking a risk a day, keeps boredom at bay. What will yours be?

Okay, now I will stop.

One Year Ago Today

 

I’m celebrating! 

One year and 111 posts ago, I began this blog. 

I started it as a result of being told I “had to” as part of a training commitment. I immediately responded with a serious and heartfelt “No way!”, and followed it up with a long and detailed list of excuses and explanations of why I was incapable of doing such a thing.

First Attempts, False Starts

I then began blogging. I used a different site, and blogged under a different title, diving head first into a world I knew nothing about. My lack of ability in all areas technical coupled with my content-writing phobia made me a nervous wreck. I spent way too much time asking myself questions such as: How will I ever figure this out? Why would anyone want to read anything I write? What have I got to add to the millions of blogs out there? Who am I to think that . . . ?

That lovely little line of questioning led me to a brand new set of worries about the “whole world” reading my blog and seeing all the typos and grammatical errors I was sure to make. Pretty funny, how I quickly went from worrying “Who would want to read it?” to worrying that everyone would read it.

My anxiety became so great, I began dreaming about typos – there were lots. My fears led me to blog less and less. I used the blog to meet the course requirements and then let it slide.

Lesson Learned

Then one day, I was reading someone else’s blog, and it inspired me to restart mine. (Well, sort-of. Actually, I think I was just jealous, and couldn’t stand myself anymore for whimping out on mine. Horrible to admit, but true. That’s still a form of inspiration, no?) 

The next day I started this blog.

Over time, worries about less than stellar posts, typos and grammatical errors receded as the joy of learning new things and challenging myself in new ways grew. It’s not that I no longer care about those things – I do, and I apologize for any and all errors or not so great posts, but the fun, flow and fulfilment of transferring ideas to words and getting your great feedback now exceeds any lingering worries or doubts.  

Blogging has allowed me to test my level of cosmic trust, specifically that I will come up with three topics a week that interest me and won’t totally bore or disgust my readers : -).

Writing the blog has also helped me get over myself and get out of my way. It’s helped me get out there, and explore the world out there, and best of all it has connected me with you.

Special thanks to my dear friends and first readers for not laughing hysterically at my early attempts, and for spurring me on instead. Thank you!

And, to all my new readers and subscribers, thank you. If writing is the heart of a blog, you are the soul. Thanks for reading from here or there – I love knowing folks beyond the States in wonderful and interesting places in Africa, Australia, France and Macedonia are reading along.

Mega thanks to all of you, who share your thoughts. Your comments help direct future posts, expand the conversation and broaden everyone’s perspective, especially mine. Thank you for being brave and kind.

Looking Ahead

Hope you like the new look. I love the color and the fresher, lighter layout. You should be able to find everything in more or less the same place. If not, let me know.

In honor of the blog’s one year anniversary, I am also starting a Wishful Thinking Works monthly newsletter. If you would like to receive it, you can opt in by sending me an email at wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com with the word “newsletter” in the subject line and I will add you to the list. It will be filled with tales and tips about creating the life you want.

In March, I will start a series of weekly interviews with folks I call “Dream Weavers”. I’ve told you about a few Macedonian Dream Weavers in past posts, but I will now be including personal interviews with the interesting, creative and brave people I write about, and will expand the pool.

Blogging has reconfirmed the value of Taking Risks for me, which was the title of my first Wishful Thinking Works post on February 11, 2010. I like that. 

If you are thinking about taking risk or two, I highly encourage it. Make sure the risk is in the direction of your dreams, and then go for it! Need help? Check out my My Courage Diet, it has gotten me back on track many times.

Have a sweet weekend.

Patrice

PS Fran in Florida has won the copy of Jackie Kelm’s book “The Joy of Appreciative Living”, which I offered last Friday to anyone, who guessed why today was special for me. Fran didn’t guess the correct answer, but she took numerous risks trying to come-up with the correct answer, which makes her a winner. Congratulations, Fran.

PSS Oh, and if you find any typos, no need to let me know.

My Courage Diet

Wishful thinking often leads to growth and change, which usually involves some level of risk.  

Risk tasking requires at least a little courage. 

And, as you may have read, my initial reaction to taking risks usually involves a bit of fear, so for many years, I have been using a series of activities that have allowed me to face my fears – except for dealing with really ugly, furry, jumping spiders. 

I am mentioning all this now, because on Saturday while I am risk-taking-away myself through another workshop; I will be referring to my “Courage Diet” and this blog.  So, I decided a little pre-posting is in order.  

The idea of combining the steps into a diet  came from the book The Joy Diet by life coach and Oprah magazine columnist, Martha Beck, which I read about seven years ago, and immediately started using to create more joy in my life.  Beck lists taking risks as the fifth step of her ten step plan to finding joy. She encourages us to take risks that make sense and are oriented in the direction we want to go. She has one caveat: the risk must be scary. (That part was easy for me!) 

I hope the “Courage Diet” helps and encourages you, as much as it has guided and supported me.  To get started, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper and the wish to change your life, even just a little. 

Courage Diet 

Step 1

Begin by writing a list of all the brave or difficult-to-accomplish things you have done.

List every single challenge you have faced and fear you have conquered. Remember, there was a time when tying your shoe, passing your driver’s test, and getting your first kiss, date, degree or job – seemed very, very scary. 

Try not to think, just write. Set a timer for 3 minutes – writing and creating a deadline are essential parts of the process. 

Then reread your list; fill-in any blanks; round-out the details and add any other brave acts that come to mind. 

Each day, pick one item on the list to review and revisit.

Take a minute to fully picture the scene and to feel the memories and sensations it brings. Sixty seconds of reminiscing can bring you a flush of positive feelings and a nice boost of courage. 

Step 2

Think of the music that gets you going and in a great mood.

For me “Eye of the Tiger” is a sure winner no matter what I am trying to conquer. Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” (no laughing, please) and Kenny Loggins’ “This is It” got me through my undergrad degree; Alaniss Morisette kept me focused through relationship upheavals; classical music helped me with my Masters and Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin and Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” kept me company in the Peace Corps. 

It’s your pick, your list, your music.

Now, put the music in a format that is easy to access and then, listen to it! Once, twice, three times a day – at home, in the car, running, walking, whatever it takes to keep you feeling motivated. (Shadow boxing in the shower is fully acceptable.) 

Step 3

Create a list of movies that have inspired you – movies based on real people, who have faced challenges, stepped in and out of their comfort zones, and achieved their dreams. “Rudy,” “Rocket Boys/October Sky,” “Cinderella Man,” and “Julie & Julia” are some of my favorites. 

Carve out time to watch these movies.

If you are short on movie-watching time go online to http://www.imdb.com/ or to the official site of the movie, or see if the movie’s trailer is on http://www.youtube.com/. Then read about the film or watch the trailer. Replay the film in your mind, remembering the scenes, music, and characters that made it special to you. 

If you cannot think of a single inspiring movie, go to the American Film Institute’s 100 Years 100 Cheersweb site and download their list of the 100 most inspiring movies.

You can also watch free and short inspirational videos at http://www.simpletruths.com/.   One of my favorites – because of the music: “Eye of the Tiger” –  is http://www.finishstrongmovie.com/

Step 4

Make a list of books or stories that have inspired you. Don’t forget your childhood favorites. 

Read them again. If you are crunched for time, read the first and last chapters or your favorite passages, or even an online summary. It only takes a few minutes or a quick glance to bring back the memories and the meaning they held for you. 

Step 5

Repeat diet steps 1-4, as necessary.  (Repetition does not imply defeat or failure in any way, but rather shows great bravery and resiliency for allowing yourself to face new and sometime scary life options. Seriously, that is what I tell myself and it seems to work.) 

Step 6

Please add anything you want to the diet or change it in any way that makes you ready to take on the world or that yucky spider in the corner. 

It is your diet now; go for it.

Taking Risks

Many different events bring us to particular points in our lives.

The simple explanation for my being here, in this chair, typing away at this moment is: “I have to.”

(I love saying that – “I have to.” Saying it makes me feel like a 10 year-old kid, instead of a grown woman, and for the most part, I have found that doing anything a 10 year-old kid might do is usually fun and a good stress reliever.)

This blog is part of an assignment for something I care about. So, here I am.

That’s the simple reason.

The real reason is much more complicated, and includes the fact that I am starting a new venture, following a dream. And, as part of that process, I am willing to do something I thought I couldn’t or wouldn’t ever do – blog.

I am taking a risk – a big, hairy, scary, make-my-spine-tingle, curl-my-toes, gives me the heebie-geebies (no clue how to spell that one) kind-of risk. And, I must admit that at some level, deep down, that is exciting – nauseating, but exciting.

Taking the risk makes me feel brave. My fear is slowly turning into courage. (Geez, the minute I said that I went back to feeling nauseated.)

Did I mention that taking risks scares me? Big-time, gut-wrenching, shoulder-shaking, pleaseeeee-make-it-stop – scares me.

Do you remember the board game Risk? We loved that game as kids, but it also made us crazy – all those tiny colored pieces, having to conquer all those innocent countries. I honestly do not remember finishing that game one single time without at least a few sibling rivalry or competition filled moments – in fact, most of the time one of us ended the game in tears.

Risk taking has lots of other negative connotations for me, and society helps reinforce them. Often, when we hear or see the word “risk” it is followed by a limiting or restrictive word such as: 

  • analysis,
  • avoidance,
  • assessment,
  • or management.  (There are entire USDA approved risk management agencies, for goodness sake.)

Or even worse, we find it preceded by the word – “at” – as in “at-risk”, a common educational and societal label, which carries a dubious, if not downright negative connotation, and can create a legacy that is hard to shake.

No wonder taking risks seems so scary. Wish me luck!

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